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Mobile-Friendliness as a Ranking Signal

Bespoke Web Specialists' blog about Google's updates, happening on the 21st of April, which expand their use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.

Google use over 200 signals in their algorithm to determine where to place your site in the search engine results pages and for which terms. This change will give more weight to mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal, for searches done on a mobile device.

Gary Bennion, Digital Strategy Director, said: “The search engine giant is expanding their use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal from the 21st April 2015; and the change will give more weight to mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal, for searches done on a mobile device.

“It is anticipated it will have a significant impact on search results, affecting millions of websites and mobile searches worldwide. Make sure your website isn’t negatively affected or you will lose potential sales, leads and revenue.”

The change is going to affect websites and mobile searches worldwide and Google anticipate it will have a significant impact on search results.

Why?

The reasoning behind the update is simple; “to help users discover more mobile-friendly content.”

Google want to return the highest quality results to their users, and this includes not only the content of the website itself, but the user experience on that website.

If a site is hard to use on a mobile, with the design not optimised for small mobile screen sizes and text difficult to read, this is not a good experience for the user. Google want to help users find sites and pages which are not only relevant to their query, but also usable.

After all, it’s no good finding the information you need or the product you are looking for if you are unable to read that information or purchase that product.

What does it mean for my site?

At the most basic level, it means if your site is configured properly for mobile devices, you may see an improvement in your rankings for searches on a mobile, and ultimately an increase in traffic from mobiles.

Conversely, if your site isn’t configured for mobile use, you may see your positions in the mobile search results drop, and thus traffic from mobile devices drop.

How do I know if my site is mobile-friendly?

Firstly, search for your site on your phone, does it have the “Mobile-friendly” label?

Click through to your site, is it easy to read all the text and navigate around using the menu?

If the answer to both is yes, this is a good sign that your site is mobile friendly, but to see any usability issues that Google has picked up, you’re best off checking your Webmaster Tools account. Your webmaster should be able to give you access to this. Under Search Traffic > Mobile Usability, you will see any errors listed.

You can also check individual pages using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test here.

What do I do now?

If your site isn’t mobile friendly, you should definitely consider investing in a responsive website. This is a website that looks great and works on all devices including desktop, tablet and mobile.

Having a responsive website will increase your traffic, but also the return you get from that traffic, as the user experience on your site will be vastly improved.

If your site is mobile friendly, you could sit back and look forward to a potential traffic increase, or you could look at ways to maximise the returns you could get from this extra traffic.

Conversion Optimisation looks at ways to maximise the % of your visitors who convert, be that through a purchase, an enquiry or a download.

People use mobile differently, and expect different things from the websites they visit. By ensuring your site is conversion friendly and optimised for the mobile user journey, you’ll reap maximum benefit of this update.

Blog by: Bethany Lang, Bespoke Web Specialists